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Victoria’s own website permitted ‘unauthorised’ Kiwi arrivals

written by Adam Thorn | October 19, 2020
Aerial view Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport at night.
An aerial view of Melbourne Airport at night. (Australian Aviation archive)

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews attacked the federal government at the weekend after New Zealanders entered his state via NSW – but it’s now emerged Victoria’s official website specifically permits it.

On Friday, the one-way ‘travel bubble’ between the two countries launched, allowing Kiwis to fly to NSW, the NT and ACT without quarantine. However, there has been confusion as to whether those arriving are then permitted to take domestic flights onwards to states not part of the agreement.

“We were asked, ‘Do you want to be in the bubble?’ and we said no,” said Premier Andrews on Sunday after it was reported 55 New Zealanders entered the state. “This is gold standard, apparently, according to the federal government. I’ve got no power to stop them coming in.

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“No one is alleging that the virus is hiding in New Zealand, it’s not. What was concerning is that a bunch of people turned up and we didn’t know about it.”

It came after Premier Andrews wrote a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Saturday calling on arrivals from across the Tasman to be prohibited from entering the state.

“Work with us and let’s make sure Victoria is not part of a bubble that we never agreed to be in,” he said on Sunday. “Now, if that isn’t possible, let’s talk about what else can happen. I don’t want to shut our border.”

However, the official advice from Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services, still live on Monday morning, reads, “A trans-Tasman travel bubble is currently in place between New Zealand and parts of Australia. This allows travellers from New Zealand to arrive in New South Wales and the Northern Territory without having to quarantine for 14 days on arrival.

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“Currently the Victorian borders are open. If you are travelling from New Zealand and have passed all relevant immigration and biosecurity requirements as established by the federal government, New South Wales government and Northern Territory government, then you are able to travel to Victoria. You do not need to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in Victoria.”

It’s not clear whether that advice is due to confusion, or because Victoria doesn’t have the power to stop Kiwis entering. Later on Monday, Andrews argued the words regarding New Zealand arrivals were added on Sunday night, however, the same page has previously stated Victoria’s borders to other states are actually open.

Immigration Minister Alan Tudge jumped on the apparent misunderstanding and told 2GB radio on Monday, “Their own website expressly says this, and this is why I’m perplexed as to why Daniel Andrews launched such an aggressive attack on us over the weekend.

“We don’t want to argue with him over these matters because they were discussed at officials’ levels, they were agreed by the Victorian government according to their own internal emails.

“He’s raised this issue and said very publicly that we’re apparently at fault, when it seems very clear they knew about it, consented to it and their website shows people can do exactly what they did.”

The first flights under the one-way trans-Tasman bubble landed in Sydney on Friday, with passengers now not having to undertake any form of quarantine.

The Air New Zealand 787-9, ZK-NZR msn 65088, departed Auckland at 11:06am as flight NZ103 and touched down in Sydney at 11:59am after a two-hour 53 minute journey.

Passengers arriving will have to complete a health declaration, though are otherwise able to continue their journey unrestricted. Crucially, however, passengers returning to New Zealand will have to quarantine in a government facility.

Initially, Qantas planned to operate six Sydney-Auckland return flights a week, plus four Sydney-Christchurch-Sydney flights, however, this has been scaled back to scrap the latter route and operate just two flights per week due to poor demand.

Earlier this week, Australian Aviation reported that Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham has confirmed plans are developing to make trans-Tasman travel reciprocal by the end of the year.

It came at the same time as he hinted that travel to higher-risk destinations such as Europe and the US would be off the cards next year if there wasn’t a breakthrough on a vaccine.

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12 Comments

  • Alexander

    says:

    Their website was updated last evening to reflect the fact that Kiwis were travelling to Victoria from Sydney upon arrival into the ‘travel bubble’.

  • Shane Brown

    says:

    Website was updated to reflect that information at 8:30 Sunday night in acknowledgment that they were already here and more would arrive.

    Accuracy matters.

  • Ben

    says:

    Except that clause was put in at 2030 Sunday night. Because the Fed is digging in their heels and short of shutting the border Andrews doesn’t have a choice. But not only Victoria, WA also had 25 Kiwis show up to a CLOSED border! So clearly the federal government doesn’t care if people are trying to end run state restrictions on arrivals.

    Also pretty rich that Victorians are expected to accept arrivals from NZ via Sydney when they don’t accept them at their own airport and can’t even visit their own regional areas. LNP ramming their own ideals down our throats! Sorry Tudge, Frydenberg and Morrison, I’ll take visiting my family over some tourists.

  • John

    says:

    Notwithstanding what the website said, I would have thought it would be incumbent on the Victorian government to meet all flights coming in from Sydney to check on the passengers’ origins, given the hyperbole surrounding the Melbourne debacle, wouldn’t you?

  • Andrew

    says:

    Further evidence that the VIC government are ill equipped to manage this stuff. Time to bring in the grown ups, and stop playing petty political points scoring in the media.
    I’m not convinced only having to complete a health declaration is the best line of defence either – people can and do lie for varying reasons unfortunately. Can’t we do a quick COVID test on arrival, even if it means a few hours delay for the result? There are tests available that give a result within 15mins. Would seem to be a better solution for inbound people.

  • Kevin

    says:

    We don’t know that they were New Zealanders. They may well have been simply Australians returning home so your article could well be misleading as to who the people were.

  • Robert LIVINGSTONE

    says:

    Good to see that Desprit Dan has his finger so closely on the pulse!

  • Fabian

    says:

    This is very misleading as mr Andrew’s explained that this was changed to its current wording last night Sunday. Please stop this misleading report and the bashing of all the good work by Victorians. If you continue with this I will be forced to cancel all my subscriptions to your magazine

  • Kevin

    says:

    Since AA now appears to be involved into politics, can it confirm what the Victorian Health Service website stated before our NZ cousins arrived? That is important, not what it says to-day.

    • Adam Thorn

      says:

      It’s not quite that simple, I would argue. If it was the case that the Victoria government had no say over this (which is arguable), then why doesn’t the website reflect that? Why doesn’t it say it wants to discourage travel? Also, previously, Victoria has been open to all other states.. it’s the other states that are closed to Victoria. Why not pre-empt this two weeks’ ago?

      I think the reality is somewhere in the middle. There is confusion over who exactly is responsible because this is an unprecedented situation. I also made it clear in the article that it was uncertain if this was a mix-up, or whether this was done because it was forced, so I feel I covered that base.

      “It’s not clear whether that advice is due to confusion, or because Victoria doesn’t have the power to stop Kiwis entering. Technically, Victoria’s borders to other states are open, however, most are closed to the state in reverse.”

      Thanks for your comment,

      Adam

  • IanThompson

    says:

    Clearly we are “not all in this together” – certainly not when the domestic borders have shut. Its about time the looney premiers grew up they are holding families to ransom that havent seen each other all year. I for one. And here come the Kiwis gung ho allowed in. . If you could have a covid test before departure or on arrival this should fix this insane situation but unfortuntely we are dealing with the dumbest of public servants. God help us all.

  • Ian Thompson

    says:

    Clearly we are “not all in this together” – certainly not when the domestic borders have shut. Its about time the looney premiers grew up they are holding families to ransom that havent seen each other all year. I for one. And here come the Kiwis gung ho allowed in. . If you could have a covid test before departure or on arrival this should fix this insane situation but unfortuntely we are dealing with the dumbest of public servants. God help us all.

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